The “new shiny”

The Economist blog has a section, Lean Back 2.0, that gives a range of people an opportunity to voice their perspectives on things like advertising, business models and reading. Although it claims its mission is to discuss the "impact that new digital reading devices, particularly tablets, are having on both reader behaviours and media businesses", a chunk of the blog comes across as tablet boosterism, so I haven't been reading it much.

A couple of weeks ago, Rishad Tobaccowala took a somewhat contrarian view, arguing "the tablet worsens the magazine industry's headache". His two-part assessment: the tablet offers significant competition for attention, and it redefines the content that people can and do want to read.

To fight these forces, Tobaccowala recommends that magazine publishers:

Tobaccowala is particularly critical of legacy thinking. As he points out in a response to a comment:

"The mindset issue is that magazines have thought of digital as another distribution medium (how to port magazines to digital) rather than a way to think in completely new ways about how to leverage content to both engage and monetize."

I've never been a fan of the idea that "devices will save publishing." Chasing the new, shiny thing is fun for a while, but the distractions keep publishers from tackling the kinds of challenges and opportunities that Tobaccowala identifies.

About Brian O'Leary

Founder and principal of Magellan Media Consulting, Brian O’Leary helps enterprises with media and publishing components capitalize on the power of content. A veteran of more than 30 years in the publishing industry and a prolific content producer himself, Brian leverages the breadth and depth of his experience to deliver innovative content solutions.